Wednesday, June 08, 2011

State Treasurer on high-speed rail: "So far we don't have a plan that makes any sense"

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer

See State Treasurer Bill Lockyer saying that he can't sell the high-speed rail bonds, because investors don't think the CHSR Authority has a credible business plan.

But Mayor Lee doesn't think we need a sensible business plan. Just keep the money coming: "California's project has received the largest slice of federal high-speed rail funds to date---$3.6 billion out of $10.2 billion."

It's a little surprising that these mayors don't have anyone on their staffs to tell them how dumb this editorial makes them sound.

A critical analysis of the mayors' op-ed at High-Speed Train Talk.

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50 Comments:

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Anderson: "More cars".

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Since the HSR boosters inflated the future ridership numbers, even if this project gets built---which is increasingly unlikely---it won't have much impact on auto use in the state.

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob -

Thanks for your leadership on all these issues. It appears the MTA is AGAIN set to make driving a car in SF more difficult.

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/06/08/sfmta-15-mph-school-zones-could-be-implemented-within-the-year/

 
At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What WILL have an impact?

OPEC disagrees and does not lift production caps

"There were very serious objection from six countries. Two other countries were quiet. They did not say anything. If you want to know who the six countries are it is: Libya, Angola, Ecuador, Algiers, Iran and Venezuela. Those were the six countries who were vehemently against increasing production. You can yourselves, you can analyze yourselves why they want no increase in production."

Libya, Iran, Venezuela. Morons are holding our HSR plans hostage because they apparently prefer to be held hostage by Qaddafi, Ahmadinejad, and Chavez. Oil pricing is on the margin. Those three countries produce enough oil to bring us to a screeching halt if they want.

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

We need to invest billions in a luxury train system for the rich because of Peak Oil? On the contrary, we should be investing those precious billions in our existing infrastructure, including established transportation systems, like Muni and Caltrain, not to mention our roads, tunnels, bridges, etc.

"It appears the MTA is AGAIN set to make driving a car in SF more difficult."

Yes, this dumb policy is short-sighted, to put it mildly. Only New York City is more densely populated than SF, which has "a density of 17,243 people per square mile (6,655/km2). It is the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California..."

Nevertheless, City Hall relentlessly pushes its anti-car policies even as it okays huge development projects, like Treasure Island, Parkmerced, and the Market/Octavia Plan, that will continue to snarl city traffic long after our dim-bulb City Hall leadership is retired via the city's lavish retirement system.

 
At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Rocky's Pop said...

Protecting kids is anti-car.

 
At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to invest billions in a luxury train system for the rich because of Peak Oil?

Who said anything about Peak Oil? I'm talking about Iran and Venezuela arbitrarily turning off the tap just to be spiteful. They could push us into a massive recession with the flip of a switch.

 
At 9:12 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Iran's not even on the list. Venezuela is, but they probably need the money more than we need the oil. Interesting to note that we get so much of our oil from Mexico and Canada. Who needs Iran?

 
At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Rocky's Pop said...

Wow, you are ignorant about global oil supplies. Who needs Iran? Everyone does. The US doesn't get oil from Libya but that conflict greatly impacted our prices.

 
At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see you flunked economics too.

All Iran has to do is lower their production substantially and sell less to China/whomever. At that point the Chinese/whomever start offering more $$$ to the Mexicans for their oil, and we'll have to compete on price.

"I was told there would be no math"

 
At 8:47 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Right. I post an item on California's high-speed rail project, and you Big Thinkers---experts in the political economy of international oil, no less---lecture us on that irrelevant topic.

Iran might reduce production? Not likely, since, like other producers, they need the money. From today's NY Times:

"Even Iran has been exceeding its allotment by about 50,000 barrels a day for more than a year to raise money to counter economic sanctions. Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst and managing director of Oppenheimer & Company, said that...
“Everybody in OPEC is cheating and everyone knows that,” he said. “Don’t listen to what they say, but watch what they do.”

Disruptions in the supply of oil lead to higher prices and are bad for our economy in the short-term, but, on the other hand, that results in even more conservation and helps the market for alternative energy. Out of the mud grows the lotus.

 
At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disruptions in the supply of oil lead to higher prices and are bad for our economy in the short-term, but, on the other hand, that results in even more conservation and helps the market for alternative energy. Out of the mud grows the lotus.

For example, we decide to build HIGH SPEED TRAINS which are more efficient than planes or single occupancy vehicles. Sheesh!

 
At 11:32 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

But there's no evidence that CHSR will carry enough people to have any effect on the state's traffic. HSR boosters sold the project to voters based on wildly inflated ridership projections.

Typically ignorant comment from a high-speed rail supporter.

 
At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inflated? The models from CAHSR projected an annualized increase in gas prices (to assess how fuel prices would impact consumer decisions on pricing vs. the cost of driving) pegged to 30 years of nominal inflation values. This 30 year lookback includes a time period where Oil production was increasing and fuel prices as a whole, and gas prices have not increased faster than the nominal overall rate of inflation. Nominal inflation in theory should be lower than gas price inflation because things like computers, etc... actually go down in non-inflation adjusted price.

The reality is that gas prices will outpace overall inflation going forward because the status quo over the last 30 years, increasing supply with a slower increase in demand, will be replaced with an inability to increase supply (and what supply we have being harder to produce at base cost), with an increased rate of demand due to pressures from developing countries.

Had CAHSR done this assessment accurately, the ridership projections would be *higher*, not lower.

Read the data and do your research, or STFU.

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're talking about fuel prices when I was referring to the ridership projections, actual passengers in seats. Pro-HSR arguments in the voters handbook claimed that there were going to be 70 million "passenger trips" a year shifted to HSR and by 2020would have 94 million passengers a year!

But those wild passenger forecasts were reduced by CHSRA to a predicted 39 million annual passengers by 2030, still a suspiciously high number, especially when you consider that the high-speed Acela Amtrak line between Boston and D.C. carries a little more than 3 million passengers a year.

If the predicted ridership numbers are way off, clearly the whole financial foundation of the project is questionable, since the law authorizing the CHSR project prohibits any government subsidy. The only way the state's voters bought this white elephant was due to the guarantees that it would be self-supporting, clearly an impossibility based on every other passenger system in the world.

 
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"when you consider that the high-speed Acela Amtrak line between Boston and D.C. carries a little more than 3 million passengers a year."

Let's assume your stat is from 2008 (at the height of the crisis), which is when the argument you link to was printed (though the stat you refer to is NOWHERE in that article).

> "May (2011) marked 19 consecutive months of Amtrak ridership growth" . Trains ridership is growing with *shitty* train service.

Quoting Acela numbers is completely misleading. The Acela is not HSR, and is not substantially faster than the regional lines that run on the same tracks but have a lower ticket price. NINE MILLION riders a year, that you conveniently discount with your fakery.

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your link provides passenger totals for a number of lines in the Amtrak system overall, inclduing the Acela line, which, interestingly, your link calls "the high-speed Acela Express."

Yes, the Acela line isn't really a high-speed system, but it's the closest thing we have to a high-speed train system in the country, though it's maximum speed is closer to 150 mph instead of the 200 mph the CHSR is advertising. Acela serves the most densely-populated part of the country yet only carries 3.2 million passengers a year.

I'm not sure what the 9 million number is supposed to represent, but Amtrak overall now carries more than 28 million passengers a year---and is subsidized by the federal government with $1 billion a year. Interesting to note that even the supporters of CHSR admit that it will cost $1 billion a year to operate. Too bad the law doesn't allow any government subsidies to operate it!

The most succinct discussion I've seen of the CHSR's projected passenger numbers is in this study, page 45-51.

 
At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

9 Million riders take the slower trains on the same tracks as Acela. That Corridor services 12.2 Million riders on those tracks - how convenient of you to only count the Acelas. The regular trains are only marginally slower than the Acelas but have cheaper fares.

 
At 4:31 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I mention the Acela line because it's the closest thing we have to a high-speed rail line in the country and the only Amtrak line that makes any money---and even it carries only 3 million people a year in the most densely populated part of the country.

The California high-speed rail claims it will carry 39 million passengers by 2030! From the document I linked that you ignore:

"Even a year later, when CHSRA downward-adjusted its 2030ridership number to 39 million, something still seemed amiss.The U.S. experience with accelerated rail service is telling.In 2009, about twenty years after its inception, the combined ridership on all segments of the Boston-NYC-PHL-WDC Acela route was 3.02 million.Acela draws riders from combined metropolitan populations over 28 million, attracting about 11% of the residents of its market catchment area.If the CHSR were to achieve after a decade what Acela has attracted in a generation,it might draw 11% of all of California’s residents---about 5 million, not 39 million riders."

But inflating future ridership numbers---and low-balling construction and operating expenses---is how such projects get built. This is typical of what are called "mega-projects," like the Channel tunnel and the Big Dig in Boston. Sell the public with phony numbers and then, once the project is underway it's unlikely to be stopped.

 
At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That analysis is bullshit, and I've drawn it out for you. But you ignore or deliberately obfuscate the facts I drew out for you because they don't fit your narrative. Fortunately your voice is of no consequence.

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

Saudis out of oil in 30 years.

 
At 8:58 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Anon: Could you be more specific on how the analysis is "bullshit"? Which facts have
been "obfuscated"? My voice may be of little consequence, but there's a growing chorus of voices saying the same thing. Soon the whole project will collapse from the sheer weight of its own unsustainability.

 
At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Rocky's Pop said...

Crazy conservative smarter than crazy Rob Anderson.

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the crackpot right and the crackpot left converge with this guy. On the other hand, here's a conservative cyclist who understands the importance of the automobile to most Americans.

 
At 10:08 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

Women's liberationWomen's liberation started with the bicycle.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

But why don't more women ride bikes in SF? Probably because they have more sense---and less testosterone---than the guys.

 
At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Rocky's Pop said...

Or maybe because you blocked the city from installing protected bike lanes.

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

There were no "protected" bicycle lanes in the Bicycle Plan, just bike lanes painted on the streets.

 
At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But why don't more women ride bikes in SF? Probably because they have more sense---and less testosterone---than the guys."

This is a pretty dated concept. If you actually went outside your turtle shell every so often you'd know that. There are a *lot* of women riding bikes now, the increase has been staggering.

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Evidence, please? The 2010 SF Bicycle Count (page 28) says that 72% of the cyclists observed were guys.

 
At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again you are butchering the numbers. I can't figure out if this is intentional subterfuge or you really are mathematically inept.

The premise is "are more women cycling". I said "The increase has been staggering."

The fact that more men than women are cycling does NOT imply that there are not more women are cycling today than were cycling before. Cycling has increased overall, and since the share of men has not increased, the numbers support my conclusion precisely - more women are cycling today than were before.

You are a fallacy wrapped in a lie covered in bacon.

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What numbers? You haven't cited any numbers. No doubt the number of female cyclists has increased along with male cyclists, but women as a percentage of city cyclists has remained pretty steady over the years. Check out page 21 of the 2008 bicycle count report, which provides a comparison of that percentage for 2006 (25%), 2007 (24%), and 2008 (27%).

The question is, Why are women such a significantly smaller percentage of cyclists in SF?

 
At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO - that is NOT the question.

The question is are more women riding than before. Answer - yes.

If you don't like the answer, change the question! Roger Ailes would be proud.

 
At 4:42 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, the increase in women riding bikes in SF hasn't been any more "staggering" than the increase in men riding bikes, since the percentage of each has remained more or less constant for years.

And the whole bike fad may have peaked if the Bicycle Count Report is to be believed (ignoring for now the overcount issues admitted in the report).

The 3% increase in cyclists counted last year meant that only 272 more cyclists were counted (8,713) than last year (8,441), not exactly a "staggering" total.

 
At 2:48 PM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

Women cycling.

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your mother named you well. No one is saying that women don't ride bikes. The question is, Why are there more than twice as many men as women riding bikes in SF?

 
At 3:11 PM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

Your favorite word: "cars".

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No comment on the subject of this post, which is California's high-speed rail project?

 
At 7:05 PM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

The conversation went towards women and cycling. No comment on that?

 
At 7:27 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Seems that you not only didn't read the post, but you didn't read the comments, either. You changed the subject to women and cycling, a subject that apparently no nothing about.

As I pointed out earlier in the thread, the annual city bicycle counts show that more than twice as many men ride bikes in SF as women. The SFBC's own reports show the same thing. One can only speculate as to why this is the case, but it doesn't seem to be a topic that invites any obvious way to explore further. Maybe you could take the initiative and interview women who do and/or don't ride bikes in the city and report the results back here.

 
At 8:11 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

My wife rides but doesn't enjoy the fact that drivers are very aggressive and there aren't more bike lanes. She especially wants more protected bike lanes which connecting the city will provide.

They are coming, and the numbers of cyclists will explode. Also, once the SF school district goes back to local schools for students, many more families will be able to ditch their cars.

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

But I'm sure my wife doesn't count since she is a lower life form, marrying a bike-nut and all.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Not clear what you mean by "protected lanes," which don't seem to be on the table now. As the latest city bicycle count shows, the bike fad may already be fading. Next year's count will tell the tale.

 
At 10:44 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

Since we only count people commuting and jobs aren't coming back, then maybe we are counting the wrong things.

Connecting the City is all about protected bike lanes.

 
At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

more than twice as many men as women riding bikes in SF?

You keep saying that not many people ride bikes, but now you are saying that DOUBLE - that's 200% the amount of men are riding bikes!

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Once again a bike guy shows that he's a remedial reader. We're talking percentages here, not absolute numbers. Actually, by percentage there are more than twice as many men riding bikes as women in SF.

The total number of cyclists in the last count changed very little from the previous count.

 
At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"by percentage there are more than twice as many men"

Twice as many - very impressive. That's a lot.

 
At 8:27 AM, Anonymous bike-nut said...

Fell protected bike lane will be in by 2012.

 
At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Bob Assderson said...

O'Toole is a fucking moron.

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waitaminute - that picture - O'Toole is Rob Anderson without glasses! My eyes - they burn!

 

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